By Brooke Holt
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with the flesh I serve the law of sin.” Romans 7:15, 24-25
As a health coach, I have worked with many clients seeking to improve their health. One of my favorite aspects of coaching is goal setting. I have such fun asking probing questions about what optimal health would look like. What do they want to be able to do or how do they want to feel? What would they set as short-term goals, mid-range goals, and long-term goals? Dreaming and envisioning can be such fun! The challenge lies in making daily choices to meet those goals.
Eat a salad or a hamburger and fries, fruit or the brownie with ice cream? You understand the challenge! Every one of my clients’ desires to achieve optimal health; however, despite that desire, they often find themselves choosing the burger and fries followed by the brownie and ice cream. Sadly, these choices do not align with their desire for health. Far too often, the mind wants one thing while the flesh demands another.
Paul writes about that dilemma today. He longs to obey the Lord, yet he experiences a constant tension between his spirit and his flesh. Paul’s words depict a wrestling match in which he does not seem to be winning. In frustration, Paul throws up his hands in defeat and cries out in frustration. Who can rescue him from this battle?
Right when you might want to give up with him, Paul’s tone completely changes from lament to praise: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Verse 25) What Paul could not do in his flesh, Jesus did for him. Jesus won the war over Satan, sin, and death so that Paul could overcome these forces and live free from the law of sin.
Paul wants his readers to understand that living according to the flesh results in bondage to sin. Where the flesh wants junk food, the spirit wants salad, fruit, and optimal health. How can you get the flesh and the mind to align? Paul makes that clear – only through the shed blood of Jesus. His grace sets you free from those fleshly demands so that you can choose obedience, and his Holy Spirit is there to empower you to overcome every temptation.
Paul's word give us both good news and bad news. The bad news is that you live on a battlefield. The war will continue to rage until Jesus comes again. The good news is that Jesus has already won the battle for you, so you can fight from a place of victory. And when you fail and fall, whether you eat the burger, fries, and brownie sundae or the salad and fruit, God loves you. He accepts you just as you are. God has no condemnation for you (see Romans 8:1) but grace, freedom, and unconditional love. And he always give you an opportunity to start anew each day (or mid-day or late day). May the Spirit lead you into victory and assurance today!
What battles are you facing today? Ask the Lord to meet you in those places, to empower you to live into his victory, and then to rejoice in all that he has done for you. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Our honest prayer before God is evidence that we understand the ways He loves, cherishes, sees, and hears us. Through prayer, we can acknowledge with Hagar, “You are the living One who sees me” (Genesis 16:14). When we pray, we are affirming the same. Why do we often hide from this privilege? Why do we avoid God, the One who sees us as we are and stands ready to provide and answer us in his holy, timely way? In this 8-week study on the prayers of Job, Ruth, Hannah, and David, grow your prayer life by facing your honest need and bringing your whole self before God. Acknowledging God as the One who guides your path can change your heart. It can take you past fear and into faith, strength, and hope. Learn more about Honest Prayer.
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